Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Hello, Cyber-Physical Sewing Machine

The gearbox on my mechanical sewing machine broke.  It sounded like it was mixing gravel; I didn't investigate further.  I decided to replace it with a cyber-physical model but one that didn't have a lot of features that I wouldn't use.  I think this model will have a strong drivetrain as well as fairly reliable electronics, but only time will tell.
My first sewing machine suffered an electronics failure, and a rather mundane one at that.  As we integrate electronics and computers into all sorts of devices, I hope that system designers keep in mind that consumer electronics devices (cell phones, audio players, etc.) are designed with very short lifespans in mind.  In contrast, many of the cyber-physical devices, such as sewing machines, have much longer lifespans.  All the components should be designed to have consistent lifespans.  This means building printed circuit boards and chips to higher quality standards than those to which the electronics industry has become accustomed.  And, of course, more components of any type means more opportunities for failure.

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